Hillary Rodham Clinton formally launched her campaign for the Presidency on Roosevelt Island last Saturday. It was a well-planned and heavily-covered event in which she laid out her hopes for her presidency.
|Text of the speech|
It took her only five sentences to identify herself with “Franklin Roosevelt’s enduring vision of America, the nation we want to be,” and, in her sixth sentence, to speak of an America “with absolutely no ceilings.” The line drew a shout and applause from an audience clearly composed of supporters determined enough to make their way to the Island for the event – and then to stand for more than two hours, though some were sent to bleacher seating well behind the podium where, out of focus for most cameras, they could provide a supportive background.
The campaign’s choice of Four Freedoms Park was no casual matter. Bill Clinton had spoken here, to a warm reception, when the park was dedicated in October 2012.
For Mrs. Clinton, former New York State Senator and Secretary of State, the park made the perfect setting in which to identify herself with FDR’s progressive policies, his signature achievement in the United Nations, and his tough approach to World War II. It also made it easy for her to separate herself from the candidates in the Republican field, many of whom would probably be happy to dismantle a substantial part of the Roosevelt legacy.
She chose and listed “four fights” in her speech, beginning with the economy, casting the Republican Party and its office-holders, past and present, as the authors of the near-Depression that faced Barack Obama when he walked into the Oval Office. In populist language, she promised an effort “to make the economy work for everyday Americans.”
The second fight, she said, is to “strengthen America’s families,” a category of endeavor into which she put “the right to earn sick days,” to have reasonable notice on work schedules, to “retire with confidence, not anxiety,” family leave, and equal pay for women. On equal pay, she said, “This isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a family issue, just like raising the minimum wage is a family issue.” Clinton also sees “unequal rates of incarceration” as a family issue.
The third fight is “to harness all of America’s power, smarts, and values to maintain our leadership for peace, security, and prosperity.” She said, “As your President, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe.”
“Reforming our government and revitalizing our democracy” is the fourth fight. Clinton said, “We need Justices on the Supreme Court who will protect every citizen’s right to vote, rather than every corporation’s right to buy elections.” She added, “I’ll fight back against Republican efforts to disempower and disenfranchise young people, poor people, people with disabilities, and people of color.”
Clinton’s speech contained several sentimental references to her late mother and tributes to the values that her mother espoused. The speech was interrupted frequently by cheers and applause – often enough that some of Clinton’s points, though crowd-pleasers, did not hang together as well as in a careful reading of the speech, which is on pages 14 and 15 of this issue.